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We’re Enjoying Going Outside!

March 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Bitter cold February has finally left us and we’re able to go outside! We were really excited to get outside more than we have been able to recently. While we still managed to get active, large muscle play into each day, nothing beats some fresh air and plenty of room to run!

Children immediately asked for the shovels, big and small, and they began to dig into the mounds of snow that line our sidewalk.  We shoveled the path to our climber, allowing children who are still getting used to moving around in snow pants and boots to access the snowy parts of our playground.  Saeko and Alexandra climbed up and down the climber and went down the slide.  Nick and Rehan trudged through the snow to get to hidden items like the tunnel and glider.

With it being warmer, we were able to dig out toys that were previously frozen.  Caroline and Yazan explored the cars, problem solving getting in and out of them with their bulky winter gear on. Ryan, Nick, and Caroline pushed lawnmowers, strollers, and shopping carts across the sidewalk, maneuvering around ice chunks that they smashed on the ground. We’ve even tried sledding. The icy snow made the sled go super fast!

Now that spring has officially arrived we are so happy to explore the playground! Enjoy the photos!



Markers, paints, and play dough, oh my!

February 4, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The art area of our classroom has been very busy in the last couple weeks! From drawing with crayons and markers, to painting, to molding play dough, the children have been busy making creations of their own.

When working with markers, crayons and pens, the children use both individual pieces of paper to make works of their own, along with paper that covers the entire table that supports collaboration with others.  Our younger toddlers who are working on developing their small muscle skills, enjoy the large paper. It allows them to draw with both their large and small muscles.  We encourage them to talk about what they are writing or drawing. We also talk to them about what we write.  The skills they develop when using crayons and markers at this age are skills that are important foundation skills for future formal learning. They develop their pencil grip, move from scribbling to making discrete marks with their writing tool.

When we encourage them to describe what they are drawing, they learn to associate oral language with writing. They often watch us writing our daily notes and want to participate.  At home, you can give them an opportunity to write alongside you, whether you make shopping lists together or give them paper to work on while you do work. We encourage their art-making and writing by placing value on them. We hang their art around the classroom, both up high on our bulletin boards and down at their level.  At home, you could place drawings on the refrigerator next to important family materials.

They enjoy more hands-on manipulating materials, such as play dough and moon sand, as well.  They squish, mold, and flatten with their hands along with learning to use tools.  Kitchen tools are a fun addition to typical play dough tools, like cookie cutters, rolling pins, plates and forks.  They explore with the tools to figure out what different things they can do and different marks they can make. You could offer these materials, or any other tools you have available, with the play dough you received as your holiday gift.

These activities really keep our children engaged. They learn so much while exploring tools and materials and problem solving different ways to use them.

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Welcome Back Infant/Toddler Families!

January 16, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

We hope everyone had a relaxing winter break! December seemed balmy compared to our frigid January weather. We have not had as much time outside lately due to the subzero temperatures, and we are feeling a bit stir crazy! I would like to share some suggestions of inside activities we do here at Gretchen’s House that support our need to move, even when we can’t get outside!

One of our go-to activities is to put on some music and dance. Take turns doing moves and try to copy each other.  Another favorite is seeing how many different ways you can think of to move across the room (walk backwards, crawl, jump, roll, etc.). You can read a book about animals and move your bodies like them. If you have a yoga ball, you can bounce together on it. If you have an older infant, you can crawl around next to them or line up different sturdy items for them to cruise along. Younger infants can practice tummy time and sitting up. Give them interesting things to look at and explore like laminated pictures or a shiny metal bowl.

Here is a link to a few more ideas of movement activities you can do with your infants and toddlers at home.

See how many different activities you can think of to move your body inside. We hope the rest of the winter brings us many days of outside time!



Infants Explore Treasure Baskets in Small Group

December 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Our infants manipulated and explored treasure baskets during small group time today.  Each of them were given a basket containing a tennis ball tube and clothespins.  They each explored their basket in their own way. Nadia carefully removed a clothespin, then held it in front of her face, examining it.  She then brought it to her mouth and explored it that way for a while.  Elijah tipped his basket over and grabbed both the tube and a clothespin that had fallen out.  He used trial and error when trying to figure out how to get the clothespin into the container, he would put his whole hand in while holding the pin, and really had to work hard to figure out how to open his hand to let it drop.  Zeb picked up his whole basket, and spilled it on to his lap.  He mouthed the tube while he rolled onto his side.  He dropped the tube when he saw the clothespins and grabbed one in each hand and mouthed them. He also explored the basket, pulling the handles with each hand and tossing it, then scooting after it. They all noticed and watched what the other children were doing. They also watched me as I explored my own set of materials.  These sorts of simple materials allow the children to practice their small muscle skills, to experiment with scientific concepts like experimenting and predicting and with building relationships with other children. Enjoy the photos!


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Leaves, Leaves Everywhere in I/T

November 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

We are well into the fall season here in the Infant/Toddler Room. The trees that help shade our playground throughout the summer have changed color and dropped their leaves. The children love the leaves! We have had a lot of help raking the leaves and scooping them up into crates, wheelbarrows, leaf bags, and the compost bin.

We work a lot of fun into our leaf clean-up, too. Big piles of leaves are perfect for jumping into! The toddlers like scooping up big handfuls and tossing them into the air or loading up a wheelbarrow to push around the playground. They have found many ways to use the leaves. Coming soon, we’ll see what they do with the snow!

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Toddlers Explore Paint and Shaving Cream!

November 4, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Last week, the toddlers shed their clothes and donned smocks for some paint and shaving cream messy fun! Using the sensory table as a big bowl, we squeezed in paint and sprayed shaving cream on top of paper. The toddlers ran their hands and fingers along the paper, making lines and streaks of different colors mixed with the puffy white shaving cream. Then, we added our bumpy sensory balls to the mix. Nolan and Nick slid their balls back and forth in the paint, making more streaks and getting the balls covered! Ava patted her ball into the paint and then onto the paper. The younger toddlers liked feeling the paint in their hands and holding the paint covered balls. Once the paper got too wet and started ripping, we took it out and used the balls and paint on the sensory table bottom. They moved the balls in different ways like bouncing and rolling them. Since the balls were covered in paint, they made tracks and marks on the table as they moved along! There are many learning outcomes in an experience like this.  Children are building relationships with their peers, exploring the properties of paint and shaving cream and exploring art materials. Needless to say, paint got everywhere! A couple toddlers even needed baths!


Fall Has Arrived in the Infant/Toddler Room

October 22, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

One day, about a week and a half ago, some fall decorations arrived while the children were sleeping. When the toddlers went outside in the afternoon, they immediately discovered the new items on the playground! They touched the larger pumpkins and carried around the smaller pumpkins and gourds. The bales of straw were perfect places for sitting and climbing! A favorite activity was putting the small pumpkins and gourds in the back of the cars and driving around with them. The infants explored pumpkins, gourds, leaves, and pieces of straw while playing on a blanket. The squirrels have also discovered the pumpkins and gourds, so we have been seeing them on our playground a lot lately!

Infant Toddler Mystery Readers

April 1, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

March was Reading Month! We were so lucky to have 8 different readers, three of whom included siblings from the School Age and Young 5s room. Our children loved hearing different books as well as listening to different readers. One parent even read in a different language (Swedish). Our door is always open to anyone who would like to read to our children at any time! Thanks again, Mystery Readers!


Fun with Shaving Cream in the Infant/Toddler room

February 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The toddlers have been very interested in the hotwheel cars. Every time we introduce a different material, such as paint, sand or water, the toddlers ask for the cars. When we asked them if they wanted to explore shaving cream, they immediately asked for the cars. We squirted the shaving cream on the table, and the toddlers began to explore!They experienced cause and effect when they drove the cars around, and they became covered in the shaving cream. They problem solved by taking the cars to the sink to wash them off. The toddlers would wash their cars and return to the shaving cream to drive them around some more.

It was a fun and engaging activity. The toddlers finished up by washing all the cars in bins of water and helping clean the table.

Infants and Toddlers Explore Pumpkins and Gourds!

November 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The kids loved the arrival of our fall items. There were many different shapes and colors of gourds and pumpkins to explore! Many times we would stop at the straw bale on the way to the playground to touch and talk about the items. The kids loved taking some of the smaller ones on to the playground. They would put them in the back of their cars as they drove around and bury them in the sand. We often started our time outside with a scavenger hunt to find where the gourds were left the day before. One day one of the kids suggested that we paint the pumpkins.

First, we brought the pumpkins inside to touch and explore. Then we put out sponge brushes and lots of paint. The children were so excited when they realized they could splatter the paint onto the pumpkin. They kept splattering and splattering until almost all the paint was used. We displayed the pumpkins in the classroom. The children contiue to go up to them, talk about them, and touch them.
~Jessica and Allison

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